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Sue and Settle: Regulating Behind Closed Doors
What is Sue and Settle?
"Sue and Settle" refers to when a federal agency agrees to a settlement agreement, in a lawsuit from special interest groups, to create priorities and rules outside of the normal rulemaking process. The agency intentionally relinquishes statutory discretion by committing to timelines and priorities that often realign agency duties. These settlement agreements are negotiated behind closed doors with no participation from the public or affected parties.
As an example, between 2009 and 2012, EPA chose not to defend itself in over 60 lawsuits from special interest advocacy groups. These cases resulted in settlement agreements and EPA publishing more than 100 new regulations - including the recent Clean Power Plan.
Recent Notices of Intent to Sue on EPA's Website
|4/7/2016||CWA, Potomac Riverkeeper Network
Allegation EPA failed to fulfill mandatory duty to approve or disapprove Virginia's 2014 303(d) list.
|4/6/2016||CAA, Citizens for Clean Air and the Sierra Club
Failure to issue a full or partial approval or a disapproval of the State of Alaska’s state implementation plan addressing the Fairbanks North Star Borough 24-hour fine particulate matter non-attainment area.
|3/24/2016||CAA, Sierra Club
Amended NOI for the failure to promulgate a FIP within two years of partially disapproving Louisiana's June 13, 2008 Regional Haze SIP.
|3/1/2016||CWA, Puyallup Tribe of Indians
NOI regarding alleged mandatory duty to promulgate WQS in Washington State.
|2/18/2016||CAA, Bill Green
Failure to issue a part 71 permit in response to EPA’s order granting in part a petition to object to the Hanford permit and the state’s failure to respond to that order.
For a full list of EPA's Notices of Intent to Sue, visit http://www.epa.gov/ogc/noi.html.
What is New in Sue and Settle?
- 3/31: Reuters | U.S. environmental groups sue to overturn GMO salmon approval
- 3/23: Feed Navigator | US: Intervention attempt from feed crop growers in neonicotinoid-treated seed lawsuit
- 3/21: Capital Press | Judge refuses to dismiss pale cyst nematode lawsuit
- 3/21: Flathead Beacon | Feds, Groups Reach Tentative Deal Over Oil Lease Emissions
- 3/20: Q13 Fox | U.S. Forest Service reaches settlement with environmental groups over ATV use on Washington forest roads
- 3/18: Daily Caller | Republican Budget Would Dismantle EPA Regulatory Overreach
- 3/17: Great Falls Tribune | Environmentalists drop sheep grazing lawsuit
- 3/16: The Times-Picayune | Animals endangered by government foot-dragging, federal lawsuit says
- 3/10: The Hill | Feds sued over butterfly protections
- 3/9: Center for Biological Diversity | Lawsuit Seeks Endangered Species Act Protections for Imperiled Bi-state Sage Grouse (press release)
- 3/3: KPQ News Radio | Lawsuit Filed Against EPA Over Water Quality Rules
- 3/2: Q13 Fox | Groups sue EPA for not finalizing ‘fish consumption’ rule
See all -- Sue and Settle News Archive
What are the Economic Implications of our Findings?
Interactive List of All Sue & Settle Cases
Also see this alternate table, which lists court cases resolved by agency action in response to legal challenges.